Train driver blows the whistle over Thameslink problems

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A “continuously tired” train driver has responded to a recent article in this newspaper about travel woes aboard Thameslink trains.

Referring to GTR partially blaming its poor performance in the first three weeks of its new franchise on an unprecedented seven fatalities, the whistleblower said that meant “seven drivers having to go through a terrible experience [and] some never returning to duties”.

The driver said he currently worked 13 out of every 14 days, often for nine hours and 30 minutes for each turn of duty.

He added: “They wouldn’t let a lorry drive those hours. To be honest I’m continuously tired but I’m soon to retire so will see it through to the bitter end.

“Although I’m prepared to work 13 days out of 14, many drivers aren’t and why should they? Some have young families and want to spend time with them.

“With a basic wage of £47,000 per annum you’d think people would be banging on the door wanting to become a train driver but that simply isn’t the case.”

The man said it was not unusual for drivers to quit the job within two years of being trained.

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The staff shortage is one of many problems being complained about by locals. Commuter Edward Bowden, of Harpenden, said Govia was “well known for scrimping on staff”.

Sympathising with the driver working 13 days in a row, Edward said: “This is just not sustainable and many drivers will get stress-related illnesses, making the service even worse.

“Potentially people will be put off commuting, but it isn’t really an option for most. We have no choice but to pay through the nose for sub-standard service.”

Criticising rules which favour the franchisee when it comes to claiming compensation for delays, Edward said that GTR was “getting away with running a shoddy service whilst making millions.

“Even if the delay is over 30 minutes I have to remember this and claim for each journey, and wait to receive silly tokens in the post.

“This delay-repay system is a very clever wheeze set up by the government to inflate train operating companies’ profits by avoiding having to pay out compensation to long-suffering passengers.”